THE EMBASSY RESTAURANT
By Anubhav Sapra
I seem to have grown interest in posting my food updates even more so on Instagram recently, and I did so the night I went for the review at The Embassy Restaurant. It received more than a hundred likes in less than an hour thanks to the truly delectable royal food that it serves. Before I start describing how delicious the dinner was, I think it is important to throw some light on its history.
In 1947, India got its independence. A year later in 1948, two gentlemen, P.N. Malhotra and G.K. Ghai who arrived to Lutyen’s Delhi from Karachi, decided to set up one of the most iconic restaurants in the heart of the capital. It happened to become the city’s iconic gastronomic and intellectual hotspot. The royalty of this place, however, is still apparent.
I have witnessed people bonding over food here. People bonded over love, some in the sphere of business, and some in politics. This place even had regulars who put “9.30 a.m. to 11.00 a.m. Embassy Restaurant” on their visiting cards. And the legacy continues even today. The restaurant is currently managed and run by the third generation – Kumar Savar Malhotra. In August 2014, there was a disastrous fire that gutted the interiors of the restaurant. After a short break, the restaurant was back again with its flaring new interiors blending effortlessly into the existing architecture of Connaught Place.
I have been there many times before, usually during the mornings to try different dishes on the menu, especially the king-sized chana and vegetable samosa. I was present there for dinner this time. There is no doubt that the menu is quite extensive and I, therefore, asked the chef to suggest some of their signature dishes. On the table, were three of their non-vegetarian signature starters – roasted chicken, bharwa tangri, and chicken malai tikka. All of them were excellent in taste. The roasted chicken was first marinated in hung curd and aromatic spices, and was later roasted to perfection. The chicken was juicy and tender. Marination seemed to be just right and spices evenly spread. Bharwa tangri kebab was stuffed with minced chicken, cheese, onion, garlic, spices and coriander leaves, later roasted in tandoor. This kebab was completely flavourful and I literally went drooling over it!
Next in line were the embassy’s specialties from the main course section. I was accompanied by a vegetarian friend who commented that the dal makhani was extremely delicious. She accorded the same to its strong clove flavour and yes, the chef’s recipe as well. Achari paneer was another dish that makes this place truly different from others. This dish was nicely flavored, quite spicy but the use of kalonji seeds seems to have given it a slightly bitter taste.
Chicken masala, dal meat, tomato fish and chicken steak were some of the other signature dishes here at the Embassy. Unlike the red gravy in which chicken is usually cooked, the chicken masala, here, was cooked in a rich cream and almond sauce tempered just right with red chillies. This dish also had a slight sweet taste. However, I was quite disappointed to taste dal meat – lamb chunks cooked with lentils. This dish is basically a mix of boiled yellow lentils (moong dhuli) and mutton rogan josh. I found the lamb chunks to be quite dry and a bit chewy for me. However, the gravy was absolutely delectable.
Yet another iconic dish of this place is tomato fish – sole fillet topped with their own tomato concasse sauce. It is said that when Savar took over the reins of the restaurant, he tried twisting the tomato fish slightly by serving it with French fries. The reaction they received from their clients was that of total rejection. The loyalists were equivocal in their view and the restaurant then had to come back to its original version.
I rounded off my meal with the Embassy Pudding – soft, creamy, and with a surprise cashew element was simply a treat! Tooti Fruittee was another delicious mix of refreshing fruits and nuts. May the legacy of good food continue!
Address: 11-D Connaught Place, New Delhi
Timings: 10 AM to 11 PM
Seat covers: 84
Average Meal for Two: Rs. 1,200 plus taxes (Without Alcohol)
Contact: 011 2341 6434, +91 9311085132